WASHINGTON — VICE President Dan Quayle is undergoing a slow reappraisal in the press. The controversial work he oversees to prune federal regulation is taken seriously, especially by its critics. And a comprehensive series on Mr. Quayle last month by the Washington Post portrays a politician more calculating and competitive than commonly admitted.
At a Monitor breakfast Friday, the vice president was more relaxed and joking, less sober in manner than in a breakfast appearance early in his term. Some of his comments, culled from a wide-ranging conversation with Washington journalists, follow.
On the Democratic nomination race:
I've thought long and hard about who's going to emerge on their side. I've come to the conclusion it's Governor Cuomo.
I'm all alone on that.
"I think it would be a very interesting campaign. The governor of New York against the president of the United States. I would look forward to that."
On press judgment in covering Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's personal life:
I've sat on panels and discussed this issue when I was on the other side. It's a very difficult issue. But look, when you run for president or vice president everything's on the table. The American people ... do a lot better job sorting it out than you think.
"There will be a lot of hand-wringing going on. You won't know whether it's right or wrong, but you're going to go ahead and report it. That's the nature of the industry."
On Pat Buchanan's Republican challenge:
"I do not know what motivates Pat Buchanan to run. He knows, everyone in this room knows, that he is not going to be the nominee, for president, of the Republican Party.
"When I first heard of the Buchanan candidacy I said, 'Well, we really don't need this.' I've reassessed my position, because it has actually helped us focus our campaign a lot earlier than we had anticipated. And therefore when the fall comes, the most important time, we will be far better organized and much better positioned to prevail in November."
On the races for Congress:
"When you have an anti-incumbent mood out there, be prepared for major surprises on both sides of the aisle....
"I would say there are anywhere from eight to 12 Senate races that are clearly tossups. When you have that many that are in the tossup column, there are always four or five or six that are decided by 51 percent or less. And therefore the presidential election becomes very critical.
"In the House I think the anti-incumbency thing has got to help the Republicans, I really do. Redistricting is also going to help the Republicans. We've got, finally, after a decade, a fair redistricting in California."
On weapons proliferation:
"We've got to get hold of this ballistic-missile transfer, because if you marry up a ballistic missile with a nuclear or chemical warhead, you've got a changed geopolitical situation.
"If in fact we don't get better cooperation, get better understanding on this tremendous problem we've had of missile proliferation, then someday some crazy person out there is going to have the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead by ballistic missile. I can't tell you where that's going to happen or who the target's going to be. This is one of the concerns I've had for a long, long time."
On the three-month moratorium on new regulations and review of existing regulations:
"The safety, welfare, and health of the American people will not be compromised. On the other hand, we're going to look at this seriously. There are regulations, I feel, that are burdensome to the private sector. We have a sluggish economy. There is no doubt that over-regulation is a disincentive to economic growth. This will be the first real reorganization, intense look, at the regulatory system that we have.
"I frankly think that some of the problems with our financial institutions and the recession were regulatory-induced."
On lessons learned:
"When you have an objective, you'd better stick to it and achieve that objective. And you don't respond to headlines in the newspapers or what happens to be on the evening news."